Let’s pretend that you and I will soon reunite at a party after several years have passed since we graduated high school. We chatted about our excitement last night and in just a few hours, we will see each other face to face. The moment finally arrives and you are finding a parking spot while I am inside with a drink in hand, head bobbing and body swaying to the music the DJ is cranking. In the middle of my subtle dancing, I notice the the flash of my phone on a nearby table in the dimly lit house.
“Just pulled in! Can’t wait to see you,” your text reads.
I put down my beverage, carry my phone, and make my way through the maze of bodies that line the house’s perimeter, passing by the one drunken couple that has jello for legs. I find a spot near the entrance to meet you, heart pounding with excitement. You finally open the door, taking a few steps to look around before your eyes meet my face. Our voices scream with glee as we go in for a hug, and we are beaming as we take in this moment. But after noticing a few side-eyes at our reunion, I become confused. Seconds later, I realize the reason for their awkward expressions. And soon enough, you do, too. We both look at each other like deer caught in headlights because we attended this party wearing the same dress. *cue dramatic orchestra*
Actually, hold the music, DJ.
This is not a big deal. You dressed up the little white dress with gray, strappy high heels, sterling silver bracelets, and chandelier earrings to match. You also styled your hair in a flirty long bob. Meanwhile, I am wearing the dress with a plaid flannel shirt tied around at the waist and silver hoop earrings are hanging on either side of my face. Instead of heels, I am wearing brown leather boots. And instead of a long bob, I am wearing my hair in long afro textured twists. I also remember the few steps you took when you ambled into the house to meet me; when you walk, your hips sway in a way mine does not, giving life to the dress in a way that is different from how I make my dress come alive. The fact that we are wearing the same dress does not make us competitors. The differences in the way we style our dresses and the way we move in our dresses allows us to appreciate the uniqueness in our personal style.
This same attitude easily applies to writing.
As a writer, you use your words and your storytelling ability to bring different topics to life. You pen personal pieces that tell bits of your life story. Or maybe you also take fictional characters and explore those themes in stories that are derived from your observations of the kind of world we live in (or hope to live in). You already know that you are not the first writer to explore love. Or hate. Or fear. Or racism. Or feminism. Or ethics. Or sex. Or pain. Or rage. Or whatever you have written about. And if you are a writer in the blogosphere, you know that there are many niches, and you might fit one or more of them. No matter what category you fall under or what topics you want to write about, you will find that there are others who are writing about the same things.
But here’s the thing: no one does it the exact same way you do it.
The purpose that drives you to write is meant to be honored no matter how scared you may feel. Couple that with a strong grasp on your unique way of delivering your message to the world and you have got yourself a killer combination.
The more you notice the unique aspects of your how, the more aware you are of the different elements that make up your writing voice. It is even better when your how is not stagnant, when the execution of your writing voice goes beyond just a natural writing ability and evolves with more knowledge of the writing craft, your initiative to write regularly, and your commitment to stretching your creativity.
So, in those moments when you feel the writing blues or writing envy–beating yourself because someone else wrote about something in a way that you wish you could have written it–remind yourself that you are you and they are not. Take joy in that truth. Celebrate it so that you may admire their writing talent without demeaning your own. Even if both of you are driven by a similar purpose to write, the way it takes its form will be different from someone else because you two are different people. And in order to do your own purpose justice, you must write about whatever you feel led to write in a way that is the quintessential reflection of your personal style.